ABINGTON, Pa. — Sometimes life hits like a tsunami or slowly sucks one under like quicksand. At Penn State Abington, the Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) staff helps students through challenging times.
The college expanded hours at CAPS and added another professional staff member to support Abington students.
"We want to normalize the counseling process. Most people can benefit from having someone sit with them for an hour and listen intently. That can be hard to find in a fast-paced world," Dr. Karen Gould, a licensed psychologist and coordinator of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), said.
Many students deal with academic, financial and family pressures that can intensify during college. Gould and Janee' Stevenson, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in clinical psychology, say seeking counseling shouldn’t be stigmatized.
"We want open and frequent conversation about the benefits of counseling so that the therapy process becomes normalized," said Gould.
Students who seek help from CAPS run the gamut from being fearful about a specific test, to more serious concerns. Among the services CAPS offers:
- Crisis intervention
- Professional counseling
- Referrals to outside agencies for psychological testing and/or psychiatric evaluations
- Wellness programs on mental health issues
To encourage students to come in initially and then return if necessary, Gould and Stevenson rely on the students to take the lead.
"I let them talk about what they want to talk about and tell me what they need," Gould said. "They are in the driver's seat in this situation, and our work together should feel nonthreatening."
Most importantly, "no one should feel pressured to go to counseling," she continued. "It's a very personal decision."
CAPS offers free services, and confidentiality is paramount. Last fall, the staff moved to the Cloverly Building on the edge of campus. There is little traffic in the area, and CAPS has a private side entrance to the building.
Gould reminds anyone considering visiting CAPS that, by law, she can't talk to parents or anyone else about treatment without written consent from students.
CAPS accommodates walk-ins but also accepts appointments.
Penn State Abington, formerly the Ogontz campus, offers baccalaureate degrees in 18 majors at its suburban location just north of Philadelphia. Nearly half of our 4,000 students complete all four years at Abington, with opportunities in undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more. The Lions Gate residence hall will open in August.